How To Identify Problems In Your Business
Solving problems starts with acknowledging those problems. If you truly believe that invisible problems surround you, you are far more likely to find ways to see them.
Put a Price Tag on Everything to Stop the Waste. Imagine if everything your company did had a price tag, stamped on every section of every report, telling you how much it cost, and on every record of every transaction. Putting a mental price tag on everything helps to place the focus on solving problems that matter.
“Value Engineer”Your Products to Eliminate What Your Customers Won’t Pay For. Value engineering is a powerful process used to discover and eliminate all of the elements in a product or service that customers do not value but that cost the company money. For example, when applied to a food product, value engineering can result in changes to various ingredients or packaging that save the company money while maintaining or even improving customer satisfaction.
Ask “Why?” Five Times to See the Real Problem. To understand how the world works, scientists are willing to ask, relentlessly and repeatedly, “Why?” Force yourself to ask why until the person you’re asking says,“I don’t know.”This usually happens by the fifth why. Then find the answer. That is when you will make real progress toward finding the right problem to solve.
Ask “How Do We Know That Is True?” Much of what people believe they know just is not so. Ask this question even when you do not think it is necessary. Asking it will quickly go from being awkward to feeling very natural. Don’t be satisfied with anything less than fact-based information.
Tag It to Bag It: Name a Problem to Help Everyone See It. Waste often masquerades as work. It takes practice to see this waste. A good way to help your team see it is to have them give names to different kinds of waste. Then ask your team to look routinely for those sources of waste by name.
Turn Metrics Upside Down. Try reversing your metrics, and start focusing everyone’s attention on solving the problems that remain rather than success achieved: Focus on the 10% dissatisfaction rate, the 65% unserved market share, and the 7% of projects not completed on or ahead of time and budget. Accentuate the negative!
The 80/20 Rule. Undertake an 80/20 analysis to identify the small set of causes that lead to a large portion of the effect. You can dramatically reduce the number of problems you need to solve while still gaining large benefits.
Find Quick-and-Dirty Data to Get Refined Results. Many managers feel they are limited to the data their systems provide. Do not let that be an excuse. Know what you want to measure. Then find a way to get the information you need.
Benchmarking Is a Mistake. Benchmarking supposedly works by knocking down your resistance to change, by compelling you with hard facts that someone else is performing better, which then motivates you to find the specific actions someone else is doing that you should be adopting. Benchmarking is usually a complete waste of time, because invariably no one is doing exactly what you are doing. The measurements are not comparing apples to apples.
Use Brainstorming in a New Way to Find Problems, Not Solutions. Brainstorming is a powerful way to give everyone permission to raise problems without being viewed as just complaining. It also helps everyone get into the flow of seeing waste that has been masquerading as work